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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3689 Order and Disorder in Early Modern France: Understanding the French Wars of Religion

20 creditsClass Size: 14

Module manager: Dr Sara Barker

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The French Wars of Religion crippled the most advanced state in Europe for four decades at a crucial point in its development. Every part of the country was touched in some way, few communities escaped unscathed, and the legacy of the conflict would last for centuries. By the end of the wars, the ruling dynasty had changed, and Protestantism was established as a legal religion, albeit one under severe restrictions. Ever since, commentators and scholars have argued over what caused the wars, why they lasted so long, and if they were satisfactorily resolved. Students will be expected to consider the wars as a local, national and international problem, and to discuss the enduring controversies and historical debates that this period continues to inspire.They will be expected to consider how historians have tried to explain the conflict and its effects on French life, and the strengths and weaknesses of their approaches and arguments, as well as considering the variety of surviving source materials.


The objectives of this module are:

- To identify the causes of the political and religious fragmentation of France c. 1560-1600, its continuation and eventual resolution
- To demonstrate knowledge of the main episodes and personalities of the Wars of Religion
- To analyse the immediate and continuing effects of the Wars on the conduct of French society and culture, as well as their place in international affairs
- To examine and discuss the historiographical debates provoked by the wars.
- To critically analyse a range of primary sources, both written and visual, relating to these issues.
- To formulate sophisticated and nuanced arguments in relation to these issues, in written and verbal form.
- To further develop generic, transferable and subject specific skills.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate critical understanding of the major approaches used by historians to study early modern French history
2. Demonstrate a broad knowledge of the social, political and cultural effects of religious fragmentation in sixteenth century France
3. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the impact of the wars on French society and politics
4. Evaluate carefully and critically the approaches that historians and scholars working in other disciplines have taken when exploring early modern French history
5. Show proficiency in the use of primary sources to study early modern French history
6. Show analytical skills in written work, using citations and footnotes correctly.


Topics covered will include:

- Theories of Monarchy and Power in early modern France
- The advent of Protestantism
- Gallicanism
- Religious Violence
- Media in the wars
- The wider European context of the conflict
- The rise and fall of the Catholic League
- Securing Peace
- The legacy of the wars in the seventeenth century and beyond

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students will prepare for each seminar by reading texts and primary sources specified by the Module Leader. They will also be expected to undertake further, self-directed reading for each class.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be given feedback on their class contributions weekly, and will also be given the chance to have one-on-one meetings with the tutor before the essay hand in and as they develop their research exercise.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 words to be submitted by 12.00 pm on Monday of exam week 160.00
Literature Review2,000 word literature review to be submitted by 12.00 pm on Monday of teaching week 640.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The 3,000-word essay tests students' ability to research aspects of, and approaches to, early modern French history and to generate sophisticated and discursive responses to set questions. In the review essay, students will be required to identify, summarise, evaluate and compare 3-6 key works on a topic selected jointly by the student and the module convenor. It will test their ability to locate and critically evaluate secondary material. The assessment is timed so that students will have chance to have substantive feedback before undertaking their longer essay.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 15:57:32


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